FSFE Newsletter - September 2013
F-Droid: Privacy aware software repository for Android
F-Droid is a project that provides Free Software applications for Android via a repository system, much like most package systems of the GNU/Linux distributions. This differs from other mobile app markets, like Google Play or Apple's AppStore, since the client and server side software respect your freedoms and do not force you to register an account to use them. F-Droid's settings will value your privacy: although you can choose to enable it, by default it does not show programs which 1) show advertisement, 2) track and report your activity, promote 3) non-free add-ons or 4) non-free network services, or 5) depend on other non-free apps. That is why since the beginning of FSFE's "Free Your Android" campaign we point people to F-Droid.
For the last two months Daniel Martí, one of the F-Droid developers, was an intern in FSFE's Berlin office. Beside participating in FSFE's day to day business, improving our newsletter publishing process and some other nice tools for FSFE's work, he gave two F-Droid workshops in Berlin. In the workshops he toughed others how to include new programs into the F-Droid repository, and documented what he learnt from the first two workshops. As you can see in FSFE's event section, Daniel already announced general Free Your Android workshops in Spain, and will also continue giving F-Droid workshops.
To promote F-Droid Torsten Grote and others from our android list finalised a new F-Droid leaflet. So if you want to promote a Free Software repository for Android, you can print the new leaflets yourself, order them from FSFE, or make a donation so FSFE can continue to distribute our leaflets widely.
New Zealand bans software patents
As one of the organisations working to get rid of software patents for over a decade now, and the recent success in Germany, FSFE welcomes New Zealand's decision to ban software patents. It also contains the potentially troublesome "as such" wording, which some courts in the EU interpreted to permit software patents. But in New Zealand they made clear how to interpret this: you can only patent it if the inventive step is not merely in the software. Besides, the law seems to get around the TRIPS requirement that all inventions in all fields of technology have to be patentable by stating that computer programs are not inventions, and therefore not patentable.
Something completely different
- Due to the revealed surveillance Groklaw founder PJ announced that she does not see another way than to shut down the news site. Groklaw helped to defend Free Software against FUD in the SCO case, during the OOXML fight, and followed the Microsoft antitrust case that FSFE won together with Samba. As Fellow Paul Adams put it "The world of IT is just that little bit less safe without Groklaw". In future it will be harder to counter big IT companies spin-doctoring.
- As every month Guido Arnold gathered all education related news. He also wrote about a school in the southeast of England, which began switching its student-facing computers to GNU/Linux. Stuart Jarvis interviewed the school's Network Manager which is a good case study to refer to.
- FSFE was also active in giving talks: Karsten Gerloff's keynote at the Euskalencounter festival in Bilbao received huge press attention in the Spanish speaking media, for example in Tercera en Linea (Spanish). In his talk "All watched over by machines of loving grace" he talked about the question of who controls our machines.
- In a lightning talk at KDE's Akademy Matija explained FSFE's fiduciary programme. The Video recording is now available.
- German Deputy coordinator Torsten Grote again spent a lot of his volunteer time to give interviews for the German radio stations, including a one hour discussion round about "securing your digital home - privacy in the internet". You find all the interviews on FSFE's audio page.
- Joinup reports that the Valencia region government (Spain) completed a switch to LibreOffice on all of the 120,000 desktop PCs of the administration, including schools and courts. They also published a summary about France's detailed use and plans for free software.
- DRM: Loosing all your e-books by going to Singapur? Jim O'Donnell describes how that happened to him. To prevent that you can buy DRM-free books.
- Besides, David Wheeler suggests to adopt the Free Software principles to IT security. For the name he suggests Open security,
- and the Ada initiative published a history of anti-harassment policies in the Free Software community. As it is not mentioned in the article: For this year's libreplanet conference our sister organisation also had anti harassment policy.
- From the planet aggregation:
- Paul Boddie commented the article Licensing in a Post Copyright World to clarify some points, bringing some of the missing facts to the table.
- On privacy: Henri Bergius wrote about GeoClue2, which offers better privacy controls than its predecessor. The previous version of the library would provide the current location to any application; with GeoClue2, GNOME will require the user to confirm location requests from each application.
- Karl Beecher wrote about Free Software alternatives for the post-PRISM era, suggesting GNU/Linux as operating system, Kolab for e-mail, owncloud for storage. But he is looking for VoIP solutions.
- Valentin Rusu wrote a GnuPG backend for the KDE's password manager KDE Wallet, and
- in "Bruce Schneier and the Lords of the Cloud", Karl Beecher summarises a talk by the crypto expert.
- Lucile was at the OHM festival. In her summary of the event she came to the conclusion that advice to activists, whose safety depends on digital security, is very complicated.
- Guido Arnold found a nice quote which says that Free Software shares the values that underlie journalism and democracy, and
- reports that the Fellowship group in Rhein-Main area tries another tactic to spread out (German).
- Kevin wrote about the connection between his new bass strings and Free Software. Read about this connection and why this bass company moved away from Microsoft.
- If you want to help raise Martin Gollowitzer's motivation, support his health, and support Free Software all at once, please donate to FSFE using "Tracking for Freedom" as the payment reference.
- On technical topics: Sam Tuke explains how to achieve reverse reverb (echo) effect with GNU/Linux audio plugins,
- Isabel Drost recommends not to switch from RDBMS to Apache Hadoop, and
- "IRL" is dreaming of a secure browser.
Get active: Tell us which company benefits from Free Software!
As a non-profit organisation depending on donations, FSFE constantly has to ask people to actually donate. Although more and more of FSFE's budget comes from its supporting members -- the Fellows -- FSFE also receives donations from several companies. Most of them extensively use or write Free Software, use Free Software as a basis for their business models, or want to enable social change.
Do you know a company which benefits a lot from Free Software and which is not yet donating to us? If so please send us an e-mail with the company's name, if possible a contact name, e-mail, phone number, and a short note how they benefit from Free Software or FSFE's work. This way we are able to contact them and secure our funding.